My basement has built-in cabinets and posts that are stained a dark brown and I want to lighten them - ideally something closer to white oak. I researched online and found that a chlorine bleach is used to remove/lighten stains. Many of the instructions recommend applying the bleach in a well-ventilated space, but I can only remove the cabinet doors and possibly the shelves from the basement - the rest would have to be bleached in place.

What can I do to increase ventilation in the basement and to protect myself from the fumes? Or is chlorine bleach in such a situation a bad idea?

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    Taking dark brown to light oak is a tall order. I believe you will need to invest in a sander and a lot of sandpaper. Mar 11, 2018 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


First I had heard of using bleach to restain but makes sense. Whether you use bleach or stain remover, ventilation, gloves, eye wear and a mask are important. A mask like https://www.amazon.com/3M-Bleach-Respirator-Non-Valved-Disposable/dp/B001G8WRJM should be ok or you could go with https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007JZ1NIM/ref=sspa_mw_detail_0?psc=1 and buy the appropriate cartridge.

I’d recommend trying bleach and stain remover on a small surface area first. Chlorine bleach should be ok and will remove dye color from wood, but not the wood's natural color (exactly what you want). In either case, you’ll likely still need a fair amount of sanding.

Compare the results to see how things look. Please post here too, would love to see the difference.

Regarding basement ventilation, open any windows you have in the basement or near it and run fans.

  • Thanks for the suggestions! I probably won't get around to doing it until this summer, but I wanted to have an idea of what would be involved.
    – purplecat
    Mar 12, 2018 at 23:37

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